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 Yet again we were blessed with sunshine and good weather, it was very strange not having our dear friend and member Mary with us, she was greatly missed by all on retreat.

Father Paul Baker lead the retreat this year; the theme being,  ‘The Seasons of the Spirit’.

 1st address:  Advent: The beginning of the Church Year

The anticipation, the breathlessness of waiting for god to be incarnate as the baby Jesus, so that he may experience all the emotions of man's life, beginning with birth as all mortals do, and the anticipation and waiting was brought closer to us by the poem

Kneeling      by R S Thomas [well worth finding a copy ]

Which speaks of the spirit waiting and him being the messenger, but how god prompts him to wait and not speak too soon , that something is lost in the speaking , but the real meaning is in the waiting

2nd address: Christmas

Christ is born into the world, John proclaims him as the “word”. The Messiah how the world came into being through him and how it is God the only son, who is close to the father's heart, who has made him known and this was made very obvious in the poem

BC:AD  by V A Fanthorpe

This according to the poem was the moment before was turned into after and the future time and keepers of the present   realised the significance of the birth of Christ

3rd address: Lent

Fr. Paul, began this session after dinner where we all had been sated with good food and for many a glass of wine,

Lent is about admitting your weakness , trying to give succour to those who need it , accepting how much we depend on God  and trust that he is with us in every aspect  of our lives,  we sense gods strength in our weakness and hope that we will receive his full forgiveness  If we give forgiveness to others for their weakness. The poem   

Love by George Herbert

 was read, then sung, cementing the feelings of man’s weakness and God’s love and strength

4th address: Holy Week and Easter

Fr. Paul said he sometimes finds Holy Week over whelming especially the 3 final days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Some may ask why did God allow his only son to suffer death on the cross for us in this manner.       But god knew that Jesus had to experience the full gamut of man's life experiences, beginning with birth and ending with death. Also it had to be this way, as it would be too easy to die for what is good or beautiful. God had to die for the half-hearted and the corrupt; you and me. This was part of a quote from the poem

The power and the Glory  by Graham Green

The four sessions we had were thought provoking and Fr. Paul gave us some very interesting thoughts  to contemplate on our own after each session , if I had a complaint  it would be I would have liked group discussions before we went to contemplate on our own.

We finalised the retreat with a wonderful, Eucharist service where we again remembered our dear friend and member Mary. However overall this retreat was again one where the leader challenged us and our  sometimes blinkered view of Gods reason for doing what he does or does not do for man

Again I would recommend any who have not been to Shepherds Dene to give it a go  as not only do you meet up with other members , you make new friends and give yourself closer to God in wonderful surroundings

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